UT Martin engineering students place in regional competitions
Contact 1: Erin Chesnut
MARTIN, Tenn. — Three teams from the University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Engineering competed in the recent American Society of Civil Engineers Deep South Conference at the University of Memphis. UT Martin students competed in the concrete canoe, steel bridge, surveying, Mead paper and mystery event competitions and earned top-three awards in three of five events.
The concrete canoe competition is unique because students must not only develop a custom concrete mix and then design and build the canoe itself – they must also race it against other competitors. The UT Martin team placed second in the men’s sprint and men’s endurance categories and third in the co-ed sprint competition, as well as third overall.
Competition judges were especially impressed with the team’s unusual hull design and outside-the-box thinking. “Sam Reeves, the hull design manager, put forth an innovative design that the judges fell in love with because it was an asymmetrical vessel. All the judges commented on their excitement to see how it would perform in the water,” said project manager Charlie Brackeen, of Humboldt.
The concrete canoe team was UT Martin’s largest participating group, with team members Brackeen; Sam Reeves, of Milan; Jacob Winters, of Henning; Garrett Wright, of Trezevant; Josh Ferguson, of Bon Aqua; Ben Davenport, of Humboldt; Hugh Pinckley, of Trenton; Cody Harris, of Beech Bluff; Marne Helbing, of Gilbert, Ariz.; and Abby Masters, of Huntington Beach, Calif., contributing.
The steel bridge competition requires a team of students to design, fabricate and assemble a bridge based on certain specifications. This year, the bridges could be no more than 20 feet long, five feet tall and five feet wide, and needed to support a weight of 2,500 pounds.
“In order to prepare for the competition, we had to go through the steps of the design process, which is the same method we will encounter when performing designs in the real world. We had to learn to interpret and understand the rules and requirements of the competition and base our design to fit those parameters,” said team member Cody King, of Gates.
Team members King; Michael Reyes, of Franklin; Helbing; Fletcher Johnson, of Helena, Ala.; Brandon Hendren, of Dyersburg; Jacob Buttrey, of Fairview; and Janet LaRose, of Dyersburg, came in second place for structural stiffness, one of several categories considered by the judges.
UT Martin also sent four students to participate in the surveying competition, which required teams to measure distances and elevations using traditional surveying methods and equipment within a specified area and limited time. King, Johnson, Hendren and Reyes took home the second-place prize for their efforts in this field.
Logan Rangel, a sophomore from Wartrace, wrote and presented a Mead paper as a separate component of the steel bridge and concrete canoe projects. This paper is required for teams to advance to the national level, if they qualify.
Wright, Harris, Davenport and Buttrey also competed in a mystery event, which involved taping a chair to a wall in such a way that would support a 280-pound person for three minutes. The team completed the task successfully but did not place in the competition.
“These competitions are designed so a student can apply the knowledge gained in the classroom. Considering most schools went home without any hardware shows where we stand as a university program,” said Brackeen.
All senior engineering majors at UT Martin are required to complete a senior design project, and the steel bridge competition is one of several options available. Students can also choose to build robotics, build and race a Baja car, or construct a model airplane for competition. The concrete canoe competition is an ASCE club project but not an official UT Martin senior design project.
The UT Martin Department of Engineering is housed within the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, and concentrations are available in civil, industrial, mechanical and electrical engineering. A new concentration in manufacturing engineering is scheduled to launch in the fall 2017 semester. For more information on the ASCE competition teams, contact Dr. Ray Witmer at 731-881-7388 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(top) Teammates Cody Harris, Abby Masters, Marne Helbing and Samuel Reeves compete in the co-ed sprint canoe race.
(bottom) The students who attended the American Society of Civil Engineers Deep South Conference are (front row, l-r) Fletcher Johnson, Cody King, Jake Winters, Garrett Wright, Ben Davenport, Abby Masters, Cody Harris, Logan Rangel, Marne Helbing, Samuel Reeves, (back row) Dr. Ray Witmer, High Pinckley, Josh Ferguson, Jacob Buttrey, Michael Reyes, Brandon Hendren and Charles Brackeen.